Atlético hope to make it three wins in a row when they head into Barcelona on Sunday evening, where Espanyol await them.
If los Rojiblancos manage to pick up a victory against los Pericos, they would be looking at their first three-game win streak since January 2010.
The clubs have gotten to know each other a little more than usual this season, as they have faced off in la Liga, Copa del Rey and in the final of the Trofeo Ramón de Carranza this past summer.
Los Colchoneros were in a very similar situation when Espanyol visited them at the Calderón back in November, hosting los Pericos following two consecutive victories over Osasuna and Real Sociedad. The White and Blues spoiled our bid for a three-game streak though, with a 3-2 thumping in Madrid.
Espanyol, after a bright start to their 2010-11 campaign, have lost their footing of late, slumping throughout the second half and winless in their last three matches. Quique’s men will seek to capitalise on their opponent’s recent decline in form, though the Rojiblanco boss remained guarded ahead of the tie.
“We are on the right path but we can’t come in overly confident,” Quique told Atlético’s official site on Saturday. “If we are too confident we will let our arms down, we will have fewer attacks on goal and our opponents will create more chances.”
Atlético will be without striker Diego Forlan for this clash, as the Uruguayan, who was limited in training all week, has been experiencing soreness in his left ankle.
Juan Valera and Fran Mérida were left off the match selection through tactical decision. Antonio Lopez returns to the squad after missing out last week with a knee injury.
The absence of Forlán shouldn’t be too much of a concern for Atleti fans; in fact, with the way ‘La Rubia’ has been playing lately, things will pretty much be as usual in Barcelona this weekend.
The Aguero-Costa duo has offered plenty of firepower, as the pair have scored a combined 8 goals in the last 5 matches.
Despite Quique’s insistence that Europa League qualification “depends on us” and not on other teams’ results, both sides will be boosted by the news of Sevilla’s loss to Getafe on Saturday. Atleti can now move up to fifth place on the table if they come out triumphant at the Cornellà-El Prat, while Espanyol can tie Sevilla in points if they win before their home crowd.
Atletico match selection:
Goalkeepers: De Gea, Joel
Defenders: Antonio López , Filipe Luis, Godín, Ujfalusi, Domínguez, Perea
Midfielders: Mario Suárez, Tiago, Raúl García, Elías, Paulo Assunção, Reyes, Juanfran, Koke
Forwards: Kun Agüero, Diego Costa
Referee: Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz
Don’t forget to post your prediction in the AtléticoFans Prediction League!